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Covid-19 presents a huge opportunity for rural Ireland - Ó Cuív


RURAL IRELAND IS SAFERVeteran Fianna Fáil TD, Eamon Ó Cuív.

Edwin McGreal

Irish spatial strategies have to be ‘totally rewritten’ in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s according to former Minister for Rural and Community Development Éamon Ó Cuív, who was speaking to The Mayo News for our latest installment in our series, ‘What’s Best for the West’.
The potential for remote working has changed everything, the TD for Galway West and South Mayo argues.
“Coronavirus has shown us two things. We have found that rural areas are much safer. We know that things like virus in the future are much more likely to thrive unfortunately in urban areas and centrally populated urban areas and we have to think that one out properly.
“What Coronavirus has also told us is something I have been preaching for the last seven or eight years – give us the broadband. For a lot of people nowadays there is no need to be located in an office in a city five days per week, from nine to five, you could actually tailor your life to do your office days in two or three days per week.
“And what we’re going to see is a lot of people who will go into the cities and they won’t go in at peak traffic hours. They will go into the cities for a couple of days a week and work remotely for the rest of the week.
Broadband needed
“And the only impediment to that is fibre broadband in every property in the country, which will happen thankfully in the next five to seven years, I would hope it will be five years rather than seven.
“Our spatial strategies need to be totally rewritten in light of Coronavirus,” he added.
Does he think this will happen?
“Ah sure it will be the usual mountain like Croagh Patrick to climb, but let’s climb it. I’ve been at this for a lifetime. I ain’t giving up now. Yes, we must keep the fight going.
“Instead of fighting these bushfires all the time, we need to be more positive about rural Ireland. Instead of talking about the challenges of rural Ireland, let’s talk about the opportunities. And let’s talk about what needs to change to make this dream come true in terms of planning laws, etc. We must accept that vibrant rural communities are a fantastic place to live in.”